sport psychology for goalkeepers

Mental Mastery for Goalkeepers

Hello Goalies, 

This post is going to discuss an important aspect that often gets overlooked: the mental side of the game. Goalkeeping teaches many valuable life skills such as dealing with mistakes, performing well under pressure, communication and focus. Yet many clubs and even professional academies still do not incorporate this into their curriculums and training sessions. This leaves Goalies to kind of figure it out for themselves, with the help of their support network (parents, friends, team-mates & coaches).

Think about it... if outfielder's positions can be thought of as very physically demanding due to the high level of fitness they need to have to be able to run around for a full 90 minutes... then Goalkeepers can consider their position to be much more mentally demanding due to having to remain focussed for a full 90 minutes as they constantly track the ball, organise their team-mates and be ready to get called into action at any moment.  

Why is the mental aspect so crucial?

  1. Decision Making: As a goalkeeper, you're constantly making decisions – when to come off your line, when to stay, whether to punch or catch, and many more. Making the right decision at the right moment is crucial, and that depends largely on your mental awareness and clarity. 

  2. Dealing with Mistakes: Every goalkeeper will make mistakes; it's an inevitable part of the game. How you deal with those mistakes mentally and learn from them will often determine whether you make a second one or bounce back stronger.

  3. Handling Pressure: The spotlight is always on the goalkeeper. In many situations, you are the last line of defense. Managing that pressure mentally is key to staying calm and performing well.

  4. Focus: A match lasts 90 minutes, but you might only touch the ball a few times. Staying mentally engaged, even when you're not directly involved, ensures that you're ready when the time comes.

Techniques to Boost Your Mental Game & Stay Focussed

While we'll dive deeper into specific techniques in future posts, here's a brief introduction to a few tools that can make a huge difference:

  1. Mental Imagery: Also known as visualization, this technique involves creating a detailed mental picture of a specific scenario or action. For goalkeepers, this might involve visualizing a perfect save, positioning during a corner, or even picturing how you'd react after conceding a goal. By practicing these scenarios in your mind, you can prepare yourself to handle them in real life. This can help to calm you down before big games and ensure you play well. 

  2. Self-talk: This refers to the dialogue you have with yourself. Are you your own biggest critic, or do you lift yourself up? Positive self-talk can boost confidence and resilience. Phrases like "I've got this," "I'm prepared," or "I trust my training" can be powerful mantras before and during a match. Try to remember a match that stands out to you as one of your best games, remember the saves you pulled off and realise that there is no reason you can't go out and make even better ones in your next game. 

  3. Follow the Ball: A super easy way to make sure you are constantly engaged during a game is to constantly change your position in relation to where the ball is on a pitch. Even if the ball is in the opponents half, get in the habit of moving up,down,left and right each time a pass is made whilst constantly communicating instructions to your team. This will turn you into a more focussed Goalkeeper, ready to come into action at any moment. 

Remember, goalkeeping isn't just about physical skills. Your mind is one of the most powerful tools you have on the pitch. By nurturing and training the mental side of your game, you're setting yourself up for success, both between the posts and in life.

Stay tuned for our future blog posts where we'll delve deeper into mental techniques and exercises that might just help take your game to the next level. Until then, keep believing in yourself and never stop learning!

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